Besides Wayfinder Brewing, which I reviewed in my last Beerchaser post, I’ve been back on the trail the last two months and had first-time visits to a number of breweries and bars that I’ll be sharing with you in future posts.
These include Binary, Von Ebert, and Pono breweries, the Wildwood Saloon and the Basement Pub – the latter a wonderful neighborhood bar on Portland’s SE side. Stay tuned and here’s a preview with some photos below:
That said and without trying to be maudlin at the start of a new year, I feel compelled to recognize three great Portland establishments – two that recently closed and one that will in the next few months. No glitzy brewery with shiny taps and sleek modern furniture can replace them.
“And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for Auld Lang Syne.”
The Jolly Roger
A June, 2022 Willamette Week article entitled, “Beloved Southeast Portland Dive the Jolly Roger Is on Its Final Voyage,” relates how co-owners for the last twenty years, Rob and Starr Jackson, negotiated with their landlord for an early exit on their lease.
“Admittedly, civic preservationists may have reason to worry about the Jolly’s truly irreplaceable feature.
Jackson admits there’s no clear plan on what will become of the bar’s justly treasured signage—a majestic freestanding pylon sign shaped like a ship’s mast at a height no longer sanctioned—but it’s evaded the wrecking ball before.”
For twenty years, an eastside landmark!
“….the property was bought by developers whose plans are for a five-story, 100-plus-unit residential complex……’We got destroyed during all the conflicts,’ (Portland protests and riots) Jackson tells WW.
‘No matter how much we tried to fix the building, people kept hurting it, and the police were unavailable to help.’ “ (emphasis added)
(Another sad commentary on the City of Portland’s disastrous inability to protect its streets and businesses during the pandemic.)
Portland’s permitting process is notoriously slow – a blessing for regulars at the JR because the original closing was supposed to be on Super Bowl Sunday. A bartender told me in a phone call today, however, that it has been extended to April or until the developers get the final go-ahead for their project.
I hit the Jolly Roger with my friend and Beerchasing Regular, Hillary Barbour, whose other Beerchasing exploits have included The Verne and Mad Hanna – a Reed College alum who appreciates dive bars….
And the Jolly Roger certainly fits the definition of a classic dive as you can see from the photos below – the cheap beer, video machines, dark and windowless rooms, historic beer signs and the restrooms which defy health department and perhaps contemporary society’s standards. It is memorable and Portlanders will be sorry to see it set sail.
While the SE location will be missed, fortunately the Jackson’s have two other locations – the Jolly Roger at John’s Landing and the Sports Page in Beaverton.
Perhaps the historic ship’s mast should be placed at the top of Portland City Hall. Then all the City would need is a rudder……..!
A Buried Treasure Disappears
One of the establishments I reviewed in 2016, was one I visited for lunch many times while I was working at the law firm before retirement in 2011. The Schwabe firm was only two short blocks away from Mummy’s – an iconic Egyptian Lounge and Restaurant in the basement of another building.
It was owned by two unforgettable Egyptian brothers, Ghobvial and Phillip Mounir. They bartended, cooked and served the food – they were the only “employees.” They opened Mummy’s in about 1986.
I used to take some of our Summer Associates (law school clerks) there for lunch. Since we were competing with other law firms to recruit them, these top students were typically wined and dined at Portland’s finest restaurants – Higgins, the Heathman Grille, Jake’s, etc.
To our Recruiting Director’s initial horror, I would usually take them to Mummy’s – that is until without exception, they would tell her that they loved the “tomb experience,” – the ambiance, Pyramid Beer, the brothers’ hospitality and the good Egyptian cuisine:
And the Schwabe managers and my family surprised me after hosting my 2011 retirement dinner at nearby Nel Centro, with an after-dinner reception at Mummy’s – it was memorable – in fact, there is a video someplace in the Ethernet of me reluctantly sharing the floor with a belly dancer, who was performing that night.
The last time I was there was for late afternoon drinks with two of my favorite Schwabe lawyers, Brian (Brain) King and Margaret Hoffman – both skilled litigators who have since retired. We met at the firm at 5:00 and headed on our two-block journey – like a reverse exodus of the Children of Israel.
Even though it had been five years since I had been to their establishment, when I walked in, Ghobvial immediately exclaimed, “Schwabe!” and pointed towards what had been my favorite booth.
Whether it was the pandemic or the brothers deciding to forsake the daily grind, Mummy’s closed permanently in 2022.
Another possible theory was one I came across today in the Morning Brew newsletter – the ubiquitous arbiters of political correctness conceptually assigned the establishment to the same fate as one of Egypt’s most famous mummies Ramesses the Great, who was evidently ready to depart at the age of 90 after reigning for almost sixty years:
“Because of the many battles he fought, Ramesses’ body showed evidence of healed injuries and arthritis; his arteries were hardened; and he had a large dental infection that might have killed him.” (Photo attribution #1)
You see, the word “mummy” itself has now been banished or exiled to the toxic waste dump of no-longer acceptable terms.
Examples include “manhole” – now “maintenance hole” ; “unemployed” – now “involuntarily leisured”; “master bedroom” – now “primary suite”; or “wrong” – now “differentially logical”; etc. etc. etc.
And don’t forget elimination of “The Civil War” for the annual Oregon State vs. U of Oregon football game.
“Some museums want you to remember that mummies were once—a really long time ago—people, too. A trio of British museum organizations said they will avoid using the word “mummy” whenever possible, and swap it out with “mummified remains of” or “mummified person.”
Well Mummy’s may be gone, but it will not be forgotten – neither the name, the brothers, the food nor the ambiance and charm.
Sloan’s Tavern – Goodbye and Keep on Truckin’
One of Portland’s most iconic neighborhood bars closed on December 30, 2022 as reported by Willamette Week in an article: “Sloan’s Tavern is Remember by Regulars and Former Employees Following Its Closure“:
“(Sloan’s) closed for good Dec. 30 following Sloan’s sale of the property to developers— they plan to build a seven-story apartment building on the land, and (Shirley) Sloan will settle into a well-earned retirement.
Nostalgic well-wishers spent the last few weeks of 2022 coming by for one last visit and often to learn just how little they really knew about the establishment.”
And why do I describe this establishment as “iconic”? Well, just check the photo of the exterior wall on its west side in the photos I took when I reviewed the bar in 2016 – you can also view a younger Beerchaser from that visit….
Co-owner Bob Sloan also owned a body shop (Sloan’s Custom Body and Paint) next door and did skilled body and restorative work on classic autos. His specialty, however, was working on Freightliner Trucks which is evident from the exterior wall and a Freightliner grill built right into the bar.
When a café next door to the body shop run by an elderly lady closed, they bought the property and opened the bar in 1979. (The entire property was originally a creamery that opened in 1926.) Some reviews labeled it a “dive bar,” but it is no such thing.
When I interviewed this charming and classy lady in 2016, Shirley described Sloan’s as “My living room.”
The Bridgetown Bites blog conveys the décor aptly:
“Notable elements of the décor there at Sloan’s is the ‘frozen in time’ 1970s look inside; the semi-truck cab jutting out from the building; and the Chicago Coin Band-Box jukebox, a rare thing to find anywhere in the U.S. (it’s estimated there are only about 10 of them operating around the country).
Put in a quarter and you’ll see the figurines at the top dancing and playing the musical instruments in their hands, in time to whatever tune you picked (mostly Country music).”
I was joined on my visit to Sloan’s by friends “West Coast” Dave Hicks, a San Francisco consultant with whom I worked in law firm days and John Horvick. People in the NW will recognize< John as an oft-quote political and polling consultant at the respected firm DHM Research and with whom I served on the Board of the City Club of Portland.
The three of us enjoyed the ambiance and the food (essentially home-cooked since it’s Shirley’s living room….). I’m sure they join me and other Portlanders who said farewell to this Albina area neighborhood institution. It’s one of a number of bars that will now exist only in our good memories.
May Shirley Sloan have a wonderful retirement and let’s hope the Oregon Historical Society or some other protector of historical artifacts gains possession of the Chicago Coin Band-Box jukebox.
External Photo Attribution
#1 Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ramses_I_Mummy.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: Alyssa Bivins 8 July 2016.